Smart Meters Charge More, Faster

Private firms have high-tech ways of charging increased fares

Many parking meters in Chicago quadrupled their fees this year, and Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, wants to make it as easy as possible for you to empty your pockets.

Rather than take entire rolls of quarters with you downtown, you will soon be able to use credit cards and other payment forms to pay the increasing hourly rates.

Also, drivers won't have to run outside to feed the meter in the middle of a workday or a romantic evening. Instead, they'll be able to pay for more time via their cell phones or other electronic devices.

But the technologically enhanced parking meters aren't just for motorists' benefit. "Smart meters" will also be able to clear their countdown clocks when a car leaves the parking space, preventing the next person from taking advantage of any leftover time.

Gone will be the days when Chicagoans were safe as long as they got to their expired meters before the patrolling meter attendant did. "Smart meters" will send an electronic message to a remote computer immediately when time expires.

Sound a little too science-fiction? Just ask the Europeans. These "smart meters" already exist in approximately 60 cities in France.

C'est la vie, indeed.

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
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